The launch of a Creative B2B category for this year’s Cannes Lions has sparked much discussion in the marketing sector, amongst agencies and in-house teams alike.
Of the 14 B2B Lions awarded – out of 415 entries – not a single one went to a specialist B2B marketing agency.
Was this, as has been debated, because B2B marketers traditionally focus on straight-talking sales activation at the bottom of the funnel, rather than on the creative engagement tactics and big ideas more often associated with brand-building campaigns?
Or does the issue run deeper than that?
Could it be because the entire concept of B2B is one giant red herring?
Because, when we look past the categorising and pigeonholing, no marketing task, ever, is about business connecting to business. Or, indeed, about business connecting to consumer.
Businesses don’t connect. People do. Businesses aren’t sentient, emotive beings. People are. And every business is made up of people. Curious, diverse, perfectly imperfect, human beings.
Every business decision is a human decision. It’s that simple, and that complex. Made on behalf of a business, yes, but subject to all of the rational/emotional psychological pin-balling that influences any other human decision.
When we consume so-called B2B marketing material, we don’t do so in a vacuum with ‘Business’ or even ‘Professional’ printed on the label. We consume it in the vibrant, multi-faceted, full-on big wide world we woke up in that morning and will navigate like an emotionally loaded pick-and-mix until we go to sleep that night. We don’t only compare it with other B2B marketing material, we compare it with all the other eye-catching, intriguing, funny or shocking candidates for our attention at that time. No wonder much of it fails to cut through.
B2B marketing that works, works because it isn’t B2B marketing. It’s P2P marketing. From people to people.
That means it focuses not only on achieving positive outcomes for target businesses, but on how the people behind those businesses feel. What frustrates them? What throws a whopping great spanner into their to-do lists, or what might give them a lift on a mundane Monday? P2P communication doesn’t broadcast bland commands. It understands. Banters and entertains. Poses questions. Makes us think.
That’s why we think beyond B2B, to P2P.